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Unformatted text preview: The Rentier State Model and Central Asian Studies: The Turkmen Case Ahmet Kuru* After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theoretical perspectives for Central Asian studies became less capable to explore the region. The new republics of the region cannot be politically considered any more as a part of Soviet studies. They cannot be ideologically examined as sot countries either. Some scholars have tended to survey Central Asian republics as a part of the Muslim world. However, the radical secularist political and bureaucratic structures of these republics, in addition to the weaknesses of the Islamic institutions (except Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), have complicated an Islam-based theoretical framework. The rising (particularly official) nationalism in these countries is also claimed to be an alternative window to analyze the region. However, nationalism is used very instrumentally by the governments of these countries, and moreover, does not have an institutionalized popular basis. Therefore, nationalism cannot be an independent tool of analysis. So, what might be the new theoretical perspective for Central Asian studies? Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.1, (Spring 2002) 52 I argue that the rentier state model based on the natural gas and oil politics is the best analytical tool to analyze the newly independent republics of Central Asia. Natural gas and oil politics essentially affects both socio-economic and political structures of those countries, in a similar way that it has shaped the rentier states of the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, natural gas and oil politics has an eminent impact on Central Asian republics’ foreign policies and their intra-regional relations, similarly to the explanations proposed by the rentier state model. This paper will analyze Turkmenistan, as a representative case of the region, through the lens of the rentier state model. The first part of the paper will examine Turkmen domestic politics. I will begin with the relationship between the rentier economy and the colonial legacy. Then I will compare Turkmenistan and Libya as two rentier states. Next, I will examine Turkmenbashi’s authoritarian rule. The second part will survey Turkmen foreign policy in light of the rentier state model in three issues: (1) Turkmen policy on the Central Asian integration, (2) Turkmenistan’s neutrality status, and (3) Turkmen natural gas and oil policy based on multi-optional pipeline projects. The Rentier State Model and Turkmen Domestic Politics The Rentier Economy and The Colonial Legacy The basic definition of a ‘rentier state’ is ‘a state reliant not on extraction of the domestic population’s surplus production but on externally generated revenues, or rents, such as those derived from oil.’ 1 In this perspective, a rentier state is based on a rentier economy ‘in which income from rent dominates the distribution of national income, and thus where rentiers wield considerable political influence.’ 2 Since the rent (i. e., the income Since the rent (i....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.
- Fall '11